Intracellular antioxidant and DNA repair enzymes as correlates of stress resistance and longevity in vertebrates
Page, Melissa Maire
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In animals, both stress resistance and longevity appear to be influenced by the insulin/insulin-like growth factor-l signaling (lIS) pathway, the basic organization of which is highly conserved from invertebrates to vertebrates. Reduced lIS or genetic disruption of the lIS pathway leads to the activation of forkhead box transcription factors, which is thought to upregulate the expression of genes involved in enhancing stress resistance, including perhaps key antioxidant enzymes as well as DNA repair enzymes. Enhanced antioxidant and DNA repair capacities may underlie the enhanced cellular stress resistance observed in long-lived animals, however little data is available that directly supports this idea. I used three. experimental approaches to test the association of intracellular antioxidant and DNA base excision repair (BER) capacities with stress resistance and longevity: (1) a comparison of multiple vertebrate endotherm species of varying body masses and longevities; (2) a comparison of long-lived Snell dwarf mice and their normallittermates; and (3) a comparison of hypometabolic animals undergoing hibernation or estivation with their active counterparts. The activities of the five major intracellular antioxidant enzymes as well as the two rate-limiting enzymes in the BER pathway, apurininc/apyrimidinic (AP) endonuclease and polymerase ~, were measured. These measurements were performed in one or more of the following: (1) cultured dermal fibroblasts; (2) brain tissue; (3) heart tissue; (4) liver tissue. My results indicate that antioxidant enzymes are not universally upregulated in association with enhanced stress resistance and longevity. I also did not find that BER enzyme activity was positively correlated with longevity, in an inter-species context, though there was evidence for enhanced BER in long-lived Snell dwarf mice. Thus, while there were instances in which enhanced antioxidant and BER enzyme activities were associated with increased stress resistance and/or longevity, this was not universally the case, indicating that other mechanisms must be involved. These results suggest the need to re-examine existing 'oxidative stress' hypotheses of longevity and probe further into the molecular physiology of longevity to discover its mechanistic basis.